Israeli defense minister OKs new neighborhood in Hebron, will double Jewish population

The expansion will lead to a continuous Jewish presence from the Cave of the Patriarchs to Hebron’s existing Jewish neighborhood.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s new Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered a new Jewish neighborhood at the site of an old Jewish marketplace in Hebron on Sunday.

Bennett instructed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria to inform the Hebron municipality of the plan, Arutz7 reports.

The new neighborhood will lead to a continuous Jewish presence from the Cave of the Patriarchs, where, according to the Bible, Abraham purchased a burial plot for his wife Sarah, to the Avraham Avinu Jewish neighborhood. It will “double the number of Jewish residents in the city,” Arutz7 reports.

The marketplace has been a focus of dispute and has remained empty even after Israel returned to the area in the Six Day War. The marketplace had belonged to Jews before the 1929 Hebron massacre, in which nearly 70 Jews were killed by Arab residents of the city. The pogrom led to the end of Jewish life in Hebron until 1967.

Prior to the second Knesset election, held on September 17, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Hebron as part of his campaign. “Hebron will never be Judenrein… We are not strangers in Hebron. We will remain here forever,” he said on September 4.

Members of his own Likud party urged him to expand the Jewish presence in the city.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, No. 2 on the Likud party list, said “It’s time for sovereignty in Hebron. It’s time for the Jewish community to grow by the thousands in Hebron. It’s time that visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs will become the easiest and most natural thing to do,’” Edelstein said.

Minister of Sports and Culture Miri Regev of the Likud also called for applying Israeli sovereignty in the city.

Ayelet Shaked, a co-founder of the New Right party, in which Bennett is leader, criticized Netanyahu for not approving a construction plan in the Hebron marketplace. She said “only words. Even wheelchair accessibility to the Tomb of the Patriarchs he didn’t approve.”

In November, 2018, Shaked, then serving as justice minister, announced “a legal breakthrough” in the case of the Jewish market in Hebron, in which she, together with others, including Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, approved an end to the Hebron municipality’s (Arab) control of the market in favor of building a Jewish neighborhood.

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Shaked wrote at the time of Netanyahu’s visit, “It is hard to believe and it is difficult to understand that until now the legal route I paved hasn’t yet been realized.”